Special to Gulf News
Abu Dhabi: Top Emirati female racers, the sisters Amna and Hamda Al Qubaisi, will get a once in a lifetime chance to showcase their racing skills on a global stage when they compete in a special Formula 4 race that will be held on the undercard of this year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit.
Making the announcement at Yas Marina Circuit’s 2019/20 calendar unveiling at the racetrack, Al Tareq Al Amiri, the Yas Marina Circuit CEO, revealed F4 would debut on this year’s programme alongside a host of other long-running support acts.
With this year’s Abu Dhabi GP (November 29 to December 1) touching ends with UAE National Day celebrations on December 2, the celebrations in the UAE capital will last an additional day.
“As our campaign says, we are always on so it’s going to be a bigger and better season with a lot of innovation, starting with the Abu Dhabi GP,” Al Amiri told Gulf News.
“We have a new format this year with race day on Sunday, December 1 and then there’s National Day so our programme has been extended from four days to five.
“F4 going to be hosted for the first time during the Abu Dhabi GP, a local race within the schedule of a big international event where two young Emirati women will compete.
“We will be rooting for Amna and Hamda Al Qubaisi and to be honest, we cannot wait to showcase them to the world. F4 is a global series but these are local rounds and these in turn are like feeder series to F1 so we are really excited and this is what we want to do to support local F1 aspirants.”
While the Abu Dhabi GP is their marquee event, petrolheads in the UAE will be driven to book their spot at this year’s Gulf 12 Hours race, after Al Ameri revealed Moto GP star Valentino Rossi has signed up to drive at the ninth edition from December 12-14.
Italian Rossi’s three-man team will feature Moto 2 rider Luca Marini and long-time adviser Uccio Salucci. Rossi follows in the footsteps of Moto GP counterpart Jorge Lorenzo, who was part of the line-up in 2014.
Al Amiri added: “We are really excited about where we started, where we have reached and where we are headed. There are new developments year after year. Rossi driving in the series will give his fans here a chance to interact with him.
“Yas Marina has done its part to put Abu Dhabi on the global map. We have been showcasing what we can do and what Abu Dhabi has to offer.”
Asked if making the Abu Dhabi GP an early stop on the F1 calendar would be better for the race, Al Amiri said: “If you watch F1 nothing is over until the end and every race is exciting.
“Those drivers are going to compete at every single opportunity that they have and sometimes when they come to Yas for the last race of the season they pull out all stops and they go all out.
“For us this date works perfectly. So, we either get the championship decided here or we get to host a race where teams go all out to try and win.”
— The author is a sports journalist based in Dubai